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Richard

"my rambling comments at Left2Right"
Oh - so that was *you*! Very nice. I've previously posted on much the same idea, actually:
http://pixnaps.blogspot.com/2004/09/illiberal-democracy.html

david

Richard-
Great minds think alike! Your post is better than mine, though.

Richard

Nah, I just quoted other people who were better yet! ;)

Egarwaen

The problem is "what are basic political facts?" If by that you mean facts about what the candidates claim that they want to do, then your test doesn't do much - it still requires no critical thinking skills on the part of the voter, and merely limits those who can get into the voting booth to those who have bought one candidate or another's lies.

If by that you mean the truth about a candidate's positions and (if an incumbent) recent policy, we're not much better off. The Bush administration, to pull an example completely out of thin air, would no doubt object loudly to any test that did not require the voter to acknowledge that the war in Iraq was an unquestionable success that discovered WMDs and brought peace to the middle east; the campaign of any reasonable challenger (or for that matter, any reasonable person) would demand exactly the opposite. The problem is, as it often is, determining who are the reasonable persons.

If by "basic political facts" you mean a civics test... Well, even there, we run into problems. The Christian Nation whackjobs, for example, are constantly trying to convince the world that the lines in the Constitution of the United States mandating separation of Church and state do not, in fact, exist. Modern Republicans in general seem to wish that they could do away with the checks and balances of power, through rhetoric like "activist judges". There's a reason they've spent the last thirty years dismantling civics classes in public education.

In short, while this is an attractive theoretical idea, I believe it to be infeasible unless there is some omnipotent source of absolutely factual information... In which case, why bother with democracy at all?

Jacqueline

Yeah, the problem is the voter test would be manipulated by whoever was in charge to favor their allies and discriminate against their enemies.

I think it would be better to have a requirement that only net taxpayers (people who paid more in taxes then they received in government benefits or salaries) can vote -- a "pay to play" system. You'd get a more informed voting public as a side effect of that policy.

david

Jacqueline--
By some ways of accounting, that disqualify almost all the voters in the south and midwest!

Jacqueline

Damn red staters :)

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